Kingdom of Aragon

medieval and early modern kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula (1035-1707)

The Kingdom of Aragon (Aragonese: Reino d'Aragón, Catalan: Regne d'Aragó, Latin: Regnum Aragoniae, Spanish: Reino de Aragón) was one of the Hispanic kingdoms of the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. It was in the central Pyrenean region in 1035 after the union of the Carolingian counties of Aragon, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza. It expanded southward, as it took over Muslim territories, until it came to occupy the area corresponding to the current autonomous community of Aragon.

Kingdom of Aragon
Reino d'Aragón (in Aragonese)
Regne d'Aragó (in Catalan)
Regnum Aragonum (in Latin)
Reino de Aragón (in Spanish)
Coat of arms of Aragon
Coat of arms
StatusKingdom of the Crown of Aragon (since 1162)
Common languagesAragonese, Castilian, Catalan, Latin, Mozarabic
Roman Catholicism
GovernmentFeudal monarchy
LegislatureCortes of Aragon
Historical eraMedieval / Early Modern
• County of Aragon established as independent kingdom
• Nueva Planta decrees dissolved Aragonese institutions in 1707
Preceded by
Succeeded by
County of Aragon
Crown of Aragon
Enlightenment in Spain
Today part ofSpain

Not to be confused with the Crown of Aragon, a group of territories over which the King of Aragon ruled. At first it consisted of the Kingdom of Aragon itself plus the possessions of the Count of Barcelona, and later the Kingdom of Mallorca, the Kingdom of Valencia, and several territories in the Mediterranean were added by conquest. Although it was never considered a kingdom, Catalonia was one of the territories that made up the Crown, and since it had a large population and military weight, it was considered one of the "kingdoms" of the Crown of Aragon.

In 1479 the union of the Crowns of Aragon and Castile took place. However, unlike the Crown of Castile, the Crown of Aragon continued to function. The territories shared the same monarch but had different laws, institutions and ways of relating to the king until 1707. Then in the context of the War of the Spanish Succession, King Philip V, first king of the House of Bourbon, abolished its laws, abolished the Council of Aragon and the rest of its own institutions, such as the Justice, the Provincial Council or the Courts of Aragon, and imposed the laws and institutions of the Crown of Castile, through the Decrees of Nueva Planta.

Aragon would continue to be considered a territorial division of Spain until 1833, when Javier de Burgos established the territorial division by provinces, ending the division by kingdoms. The other territories of the former crown of Aragon also saw their institutions and laws abolished after the various Nueva Planta Decrees: the courts of the principality of Catalonia, the kingdom of Valencia and the kingdom of Mallorca, like those of Aragon, were from then on convened jointly with the Cortes of Castile.

History change

Origin: The county of Aragon change

The marriage of Andregoto, daughter of Count Galindo II of Aragon, to King Garcia Sanchez I of Navarre, led to the union with Navarre.

In 1035 Ramiro, natural son of Sancho III of Navarre and baiulus of the county of Aragon, incorporated the counties of Sobrarbe and Ribagorza, which had been under the rule of his brother Gonzalo, into the county. After Sancho's death, the county split from the kingdom of Navarre and was a separate kingdom. Limited to the Pyrenean valleys and neighbouring the more powerful kingdom of Navarre and the important Taifa of Saragossa, the increase in population and the thirst for land for its inhabitants made it expand, despite its initial military weakness.

The legitimacy of the new dynasty was achieved by the kings Sancho Ramírez and Pedro I by placing the kingdom under the protection of the Holy See. Thus the Kingdom of Aragon became part of the western states. The donation of the kingdom to the pope was made by Sancho Ramirez in 1068, in an attempt to strengthen his position against his hostile neighbors, sometimes allied against him.

11th-12th centuries: Expansion of the kingdom change

The king of Navarre Sancho Garcés IV was assassinated by his own brother in 1076. The Navarrese elected Sancho Ramirez of Aragon - cousin of the deceased- as their king, who incorporated the crown of Pamplona to that of Aragon. The kingdom of Navarre was divided between León-Castile and Aragon. Aragon got the main territories, including the capital of Navarre in exchange for admitting the theoretical supremacy of Castile-León. To celebrate the expansion, Sancho founded the city of Jaca, where he lived and to which he transferred the Mozarabic bishopric of Huesca in 1077. As he controlled the highlands bordering the Ebro to the north, he was able to undertake various raids, mainly against the Zaragozan taifa, and try to expand into the plain, mainly along the valleys of Aragon, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza. To compensate for the lack of soldiers needed for territorial expansion, he tried to bring them from the south of France. Expansion, however, was slow and was carried out especially through the conquest of strategic points, such as Graus in 1083 and Ayerbe, around the same time. The advances towards the south were faster at the end of the century, both by the lack of support of Alfonso to the Zaragozans and by the march of the Cid to the Levant, who until then had fought with them. In 1089, the Aragonese seized Monzón, which hindered communications between Lérida and Huesca, and in 1091 they built the castle of El Castellar, between Zaragoza and Tudela. Sancho started the siege of the important city of Huesca in 1094, but died of an arrow shot. He was immediately succeeded by his son Pedro. He soon resumed the siege.

King Pedro I of Aragon (1070-1104) conquered Huesca on November 27, 1096, after defeating King Al-Musta'in II of Taifa of Zaragoza in the battle of Alcoraz, which was fought on November 18 of that year. In 1101 he took Barbastro and Sariñena, and took Tamarite de Litera in 1104. In this reign the Fuero de Infanzones was regulated.

During the reign of Alfonso I the Battler (1104-1134), in the course of a few years, with the valuable collaboration of the feudal nobility of southern France, the urban centers and regions of Tudela, Tarazona, Calatayud, Daroca and Zaragoza were conquered, and after the death of his brother Pedro I of Aragon, he decided to act on the Cinco Villas and in 1105 he conquered Ejea de los Caballeros.

The king of Saragossa, Al-Musta'in II decided to carry out a plundering expedition against the neighboring Christians in the year 1110 and ended up fighting with the border knights in the battle of Valtierra where he was defeated and killed. The capture of Saragossa in 1118 meant the fall of the entire Moorish kingdom, thus radically changing the social structures and spiritual horizons of the small kingdom of highlanders that until then had been Aragon.

In 1120 the Aragonese monarch conquered Calatayud, Daroca, granted a charter to Soria and that same year the Aragonese army won a very important victory over the Muslims in the battle of Cutanda. 1125 saw the organization of the great military expedition of Alfonso I of Aragon through Andalusia, demonstrating the weakness of Almoravid power in Levante and Andalusia.

King Battallador, who had failed in his marriage to the Leonese queen Urraca, had no descendants. In his singular will, he made the military orders heirs to his kingdoms, but nobody thought of fulfilling this will and the Aragonese nobles, gathered in Jaca, recognized his brother Ramiro as king. For their part, the Navarrese elected García Ramírez, which determined the separation of the Kingdom of Navarre. At that time Ramiro was bishop of Roda-Barbastro, but he had to occupy the throne.

Ramiro II of Aragon (1086-1157) reigned for only three years, from 1134 to 1137, and was married to Inés de Poitou, daughter of Duke William IX of Aquitaine, who was crowned in Saragossa in 1134.

Crown of Aragon change

Script and horse draped with the heraldic emblem of the exclusive Kingdom of Aragon in the funeral for the death of Carlos I of Spain . In La Magnifique, et sumptueuse pompe funèbre faite aus obsèques, et funerailles du très grand, et three victorieus emperor Charles Cinquième, celebrated in the Ville de Bruxelles on the XXIX. jour du mois de décembre MDLVIII by Philippes Roy Catholique d'Espaigne son fils, Jérôme Cock (drawing), Jean and Luc de Dovar (engravers), Antwerp, Cristóbal Plantino, 1559, LÁM. 19. [1]
Maximum extension of the Kingdom of Aragon (in purple, territories lost to the Principality of Catalonia and the Kingdom of Valencia). Map published by the Institución Fernando el Católico.
"Aragonese" or silver half-real of Ferdinand the Catholic. Minted in 1484 in Zaragoza (reverse with the initials I C flanking the arms of Aragon, where the C, mint mark, refers to Çaragoça). It had the value of a Jaqués salary, which made it the figurehead of the traditional Aragonese unit of account coinage, which was never minted.

In 1137 Ramiro II the Monk arranged the betrothal of Petronila of Aragon to Ramón Berenguer IV of Barcelona. Their son, Alfonso II, was the first king to inherit the titles of King of Aragon and Count of Barcelona.

At its greatest territorial extension, the Kingdom of Aragon was made up of the territories that today form the Autonomous Community of Aragon, plus a large part of the current province of Lérida, most of the Ebro valley up to the sea, with Tortosa as the main coastal city, and the north of the current province of Castellón. This expansion was articulated through the creation of the Marquisates of Lérida and Tortosa, although they were later ceded by James I of Aragon to the Principality of Catalonia.

Ferdinand II (1479-1516) married Isabella I of Castile. Their grandson, Charles I, inherited both crowns, but each maintained its own laws and customs.

In 1700, with the death of Charles II, Philip of Anjou was proclaimed king of Castile and Aragon, which provoked the War of the Spanish Succession. The Crown of Aragon sided with Archduke Charles, the other pretender. When the war ended, Philip V promulgated the decrees of Nueva Planta, which abolished the foral institutions of the Crown of Aragon, which was integrated into a modern and centralized state in most of its territory, except in the Basque Provinces and Navarre, which continued to maintain their fueros. In 1711 the Captaincy General of Aragon was created.

Fueros change

Vidal Mayor . Manuscript from the xiii century. King Jaime I receiving from the hands of the Bishop of Huesca Vidal de Canellas the manuscript with the compilation of the Forts of Aragon (Fueros de Aragón)

Fueros is a term that can have several meanings. They were a pact between the king and the inhabitants of a place, which could be a city or an entire kingdom. The fueros of Aragon were the set of laws in force in the Kingdom of Aragon, compiled in 1247.

They replaced the local charters that existed previously, such as the charter of Jaca, granted by King Sancho el Mayor, who granted good charters to encourage the settlement in the city of Christians from the other side of the Pyrenees. These charters, or charters derived from them, were later granted to other cities and towns in Aragon and were also the basis for charters granted to towns in other kingdoms.

The Justice of Aragon began as a judge of the Court, and in 1265 was established as a judge of lawsuits between the nobles and the king and as president of the Cortes of the kingdom. At first he was appointed by the king from among the nobles, but ended up being a dignity sometimes for life and hereditary, his prerogatives being cut in 1592 as a result of the Alterations of Aragon.

In 1283, after King Peter III was excommunicated by Pope Martin IV for having occupied Sicily, a feudatory kingdom of the Holy See, the Aragonese oligarchy confederated to limit royal power and extract new privileges. The king was forced to grant the General Privilege in what would be known as the revolt of the Union in 1283. His son James II is forced to grant the Privilege of the Union. During the reign of James I, various assemblies, more or less crowded, had met to settle lawsuits. The Privilege of the Union requires the annual convocation of a court of nobles and citizens, which will end up including four arms: the rich men, the infanzones and knights, the ecclesiastical authorities and the universities. At that time, the cities, towns and communities of the kingdom were called universities. The Courts of Aragon were not convened with the required regularity, but eventually took control of the kingdom's taxation, granting funds to the king in exchange for the maintenance and extension of the privileges of the estates represented in them.

The General Delegation of the Kingdom was created in 1363 as the body delegated by the Cortes to collect and administer taxes and tariffs, and to deliver the agreed funds to the king. The four branches of the Cortes are represented in it, with two deputies for each branch. Over time its attributions will grow as it will be in charge of the administration of the funds necessary to preserve the peace and welfare of the kingdom.

Ferdinand the Catholic instituted the figure of the Viceroy, who would exercise the royal powers when the king was absent from the kingdom, something that would frequently happen with the monarchs of the House of Austria. The Viceroy was responsible for the Governor, who was in charge of maintaining order and social peace, and the Royal Audience, a court that would impart justice in serious or very important cases, or those that affected individuals with privileges. He also established the authority of the Inquisition in the kingdom, a body that later kings abused to circumvent the provisions of the Aragonese fueros, which did not prevail over the Inquisition, as occurred in the Alterations of Aragon.

Iberian kingdoms in 1400

Territorial organization change

The oldest administrative system of the kingdom was based on the distribution of towns and lands to the nobles who participated in the conquest. The nobles could receive these honors in property or in tenancy, when the king reserved the property but ceded its administration to the noble. The nobles could receive castles in tenancy, being in charge of keeping them garrisoned in exchange for populating and obtaining rents from the lands they controlled.

The king also granted the administration of lands and towns to the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Bishoprics, archpriestships, abbeys and military orders administered and collected rents from the honors granted to them.

Over time, the king will begin to create a network of officials to control the lands and towns directly dependent on him, called realengo. The merino was an executive, judicial and military agent of the monarch that is already documented in the Fuero de Jaca. The bailes began with similar competencies, but ended up specializing in the management of the royal patrimony. The king granted to cities and villas of royalty privileges that specified the privileges of their neighbors. The regions of Daroca, Teruel, Calatayud, Albarracín and others were organized into communities that sent their own representatives to the Cortes. In the 15th century, the territory of the kingdom was divided into eleven overcollides for tax purposes, which were converted into paths, with some modifications, in the 17th century.

Demography change

Before the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, the population in what would later become Aragon was a mixture of Iberian and Celtiberian substratum with Roman colonizers and Visigoth invaders, with Vascones occupying the Pyrenean valleys. There was also a Jewish minority, the result of the 1st century diaspora. This minority, tolerated by the Romans, was being persecuted by the Visigoths in the period prior to the Muslim invasion.

The Muslim invaders were not very numerous, being mainly Berbers, but also, in later waves, Arabs and Syrians. Those established in the Ebro valley were mostly Arabs, divided between Qaysids and Kalbis, Arabs from the north and south. The majority of the Muslim population in the area at the time of the reconquest were Muladis, Christians converted to Islam. Those Christians who did not convert, called Mozarabs, were tolerated by the Muslim rulers in exchange for the payment of special taxes.

The first counts of the Marca Hispanica were Franks, but in time they were replaced by local elites, Vasconas and Hispano-Visigoths. The kings of Pamplona and later of Aragon promoted the immigration of Franks and Occitanians to their kingdoms, as well as Mozarabs. With the invasion of the Almohad fundamentalists, Jewish communities from al-Andalus also migrated to the Christian kingdoms. After the conquest of the Ebro valley, a considerable number of Muslims became subjects of the king of Aragon. These Muslims, called Mudejars, formed an important part of the artisan and agricultural class of the kingdom, as reflected in the widespread Aragonese Mudejar architecture.

The 13th century was the golden age of the Jews of Aragon. The Jewish minority was eminently urban, engaging in all kinds of occupations, but excelling in medicine, administration, tax collection and lending. The Jews were considered property of the crown, and the king provided them with protection in exchange for special contributions. The same century saw the arrival of Cathar refugees from Occitania, fleeing religious persecution. The situation of the Jews worsened at the end of the century due to pressure from the Catholic hierarchy, and they were forbidden to hold public office. Many Aragonese Jews converted to Christianity, with greater or lesser conviction, to avoid high taxes and persecution. These converts were integrated into the Christian population, even mixing with noble families. This could explain the significant frequency of Jewish haplotypes in the contemporary Aragonese population.

The internal conflicts, the war with Castile and above all the Black Death and other epidemics in the 14th century produced an important decrease in the population of the kingdom. In 1492 the Catholic Monarchs decreed the conversion or expulsion of the Jews. In 1495 a census was taken, the fogaje of 1495, which revealed a total of 51 540 fires in the kingdom, or about 200 000 inhabitants. Muslims then made up 11% of the total population. The most populated city, Zaragoza, had less than 20,000 inhabitants.

In 1525 Charles I also decreed the conversion or expulsion of the Mudejars, being baptized most of the Muslims of Aragon in 1526. During the 16th century the total population grew by 50%, especially on the banks of the Ebro and its tributaries on the right bank. Part of the growth was due to immigration from north of the Pyrenees. In the 17th century, population growth slowed down. In 1610 some 65,000 Moriscos were expelled, about 20% of the population. Other significant factors in the slower population growth were the loss of agricultural production due to the expulsion of the Moors and periods of drought, a plague that devastated the kingdom from 1647 to 1654, the increase in taxation and the uprising in Catalonia.

Already in the 18th century, the War of the Spanish Succession led to a decrease of about 10% in population, including the emigration of many of the residents of French origin after Archduke Charles decreed their expulsion.

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41°39′N 0°54′W / 41.650°N 0.900°W / 41.650; -0.900